Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Pakistan Army and Indian Strategy

Pakistan Army and Indian Strategy

Gen VK Singh

       It is generally acknowledged that while countries have armies, the Pakistani army has a country because of its hold on every organ of the country; polity, administration, finance, judiciary, you name it.

        That the country’s foreign policy and state policy of terrorism is made and executed by the military is too well known. Eminent Pakistani scholars like Ayesha Siddiqa have exposed the stranglehold of the military over the country and the Pakistani military’s private-corporate complex that ranges from flying private aircraft to multiple businesses, which stood at US$ 20.7 billion in 2007. According to our intelligence agencies the ISI is linked with some 14 major terrorist organisations. Moreover, part of the polity and administration is subservient to the military-radicals nexus. Not only is the manpower base of the military, terrorist organisations and political parties common but some political parties and politicians survive through radical support. That is why Shahbaz Sharif (Nawaz Sharif’s brother) as Chief Minister of Pakistan’s Punjab dishes out millions of Rupees to radical organisations. That is why Sartaj Aziz, current Adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on National Security and Foreign Affairs officially states,

Pakistan should not target militants who do not threaten the country’s security.”

      So, terrorist organisations like LeT and its front organisations are free to terrorise India, Haqqanis can target Indian assets in Afghanistan and Hafiz Saeed is the coordinator for directing terror against India. This rabid mullah was sighted along the LoC while Pakistan violated even the international border in Jammu region. Additionally, Pakistani daily ‘The Nation’ of 3rd March 2015 reveals Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and associates live as State’s honoured guest in Adiala jail (few kilometers from Army’s GHQ), allowing him to operate his personal command centre from where he monitors global happenings, meet his subordinates, and issues directions.

       It may be recalled that when Prime Minister Vajpayee travelled by bus to Lahore with an extended hand of friendship, Pervez Musharraf as the serving army chief refused to shake hands with Mr Vajpayee. It is a different issue that Musharraf was already going ahead with the Kargil intrusions and later demeaned and disgraced his military uniform and service by refusing to take back the bodies of his soldiers killed in the Kargil Conflict showcasing them as infiltrators. But just as Nawaz Sharif could not prevail upon Musharraf to shake hands with PM Vajpayee, sitting in the same chair of the PM of Pakistan today Nawaz Shariff dare not take any follow up action against Musharraf even as he stands indicted for the killing of Baloch leader Nawaz Akbar Khan  Bugti in 2006. So one side we have a Pakistani army chief bluntly snubbing PM Vajpayee in presence of Nawaz Sharif and the other extreme what happened during the recent celebrations of Pakistan Day at the Pakistani embassy at New Delhi with General VK Singh deputed to attend the function as MoS (External Affairs), with media focusing why VK Singh was wearing a green jacket, why was he smiling smiles and above all why his tweets about ‘duty’ among ‘disgust’?

        So let us examine the propriety of sending a former Army Chief to this function irrespective if he was the MoS (Home) or not, even it is the prerogative of the government. A dozen people spoken to including serving and veteran soldiers say their first reaction on viewing TV coverage was ‘what is our former Army Chief doing inside the fox’s lair that accommodates and connives with separatists’? A former diplomat friend had a better remark – jab politics join kiya hai to besharam to banna parega (when you join politics, you should be prepared to be shameless). Looking more closely, did we need to avoid such situation and how could we have done so? The event in the Pakistani embassy was in immediate aftermath of Pakistan backed terrorist attacks on a police station and an army post in J&K. The day after the event media published IB warning that terrorist attacks in J&K are likely to be stepped up in conjunction Pakistani army, so this would have been known to the government on Pakistan day. Pakistan’s proxy war continues unabated and was so during the tenure of Gen VK Singh as Army Chief that caused loss of lives.

          It is a matter of perception how presence of a former army chief, in company of separatists, in the embassy of country who is waging endless proxy war on India adversely affects the prestige of our country and the military. Unfortunately, this is not understood by many – perhaps that’s why the friendly advice to become shameless! That the mafia linked bureaucracy would have enjoyed the discomfiture of Gen VK Singh is without doubt, they having hounded him ever since he exposed corruption in the higher echelons while in service including the Tatra Scam. Then the prestige of the military has also been played with by media houses some of whom have dubious aims akin to NGOs. We have on record individuals with mafia connections indulging in malicious and mischievous rumour mongering like army coups and the polity preferring to remain mute for obvious reasons. Of course, where is the question of agreeing with Lee Kuan Yew when he said press and news freedom must subordinate to overriding need for integrity of Singapore.

   Hiding behind the logic that attendance of MoS (Home) was as per protocol does not gel. Protocols like this are not laid down by an international body but are government prerogative that can be modified when required. Witness Abdul Basit being issued a demarche last year when entertaining separatists that led to even cancellation of the Foreign Secretary level talks and now the beyond 360 degrees turn by treating separatists visiting the Pakistani embassy as routine. The situation could have been easily avoided by deputing any other MoS to attend the event, without the need of any explanation. Post the capture of the strategic Haji Pir Pass, PM Lal Bahadur Shastri deputed the Minister of Information & Broadcasting, not the Defence Minister to visit the troops at the Haji Pir Pass. Admittedly, the Haji Pir Pass is not the Pakistani Embassy and the former visit did not require any protocol, but visit to the former was far more important to the embassy of a country that cannot control its rogue army.

      Without doubt the government initiative to open talks with Pakistan is laudable. But it has happened time and again in the past including most prominently during Prime Minister Vajpayee’s premiership. US pressure for such talks is also a reality, no matter how much we deny it, with Uncle Sam siding with the Pakistani military overlooking latter’s terrorism and even nuclear proliferation. The government naturally denies any such pressure but when the Foreign Secretary embarked on his recent SAARC tour, it was surmised as a cover to primarily dialogue Pakistan. Old Fox Sartaj Aziz rubbed it in by saying America has pressurised India for talks with Pakistan. Post the Pak National Day event, Abdul Basit went boisterous in announcing that in his opinion India has no objections to their (Pakistani embassy) meetings with Hurriyat leaders. Though MEA clarified later that there is no place for a third party in talks with Pakistan and the resolution of the issues between the neighbouring countries will be carried out by their respective governments, Basit’s shows the intention of Pakistan.

        Writing in a Kolkatta based publication New Approach exclusive titled ‘India-Pakistan Challenges Way Forward’, Sartaj Aziz, writes, “India is not ready to plebiscite under the UNSC resolution from which it reneged after 1954.” If this is the Pakistani stance knowing full well while the 1949 UN Resolution called for plebiscite, it categorically ruled that before the plebiscite Pakistan must withdraw all its security forces from territory of J&K. Pakistan not only reinforced her security forces in J&K but also changed the demography of area through large number of settlers from the plains, which continues to-date, killing the plebiscite issue altogether. Yet Pakistan’s continuous clamour for plebiscite indicates they are not interested to resolve issues as for the Pakistani military to remain in power, sub-conventional conflict with neighbours is necessary.

      Mohammad Umer Daudzai, Afghanistan’s Interior Minister till December 2014 (with earlier tenures as ambassador in Iran and Afghanistan) wrote in his article titled ‘Afghanistan and Pakistan: The False Promise of Rapprochement’ in the New York Times on 2 March 2015 that there is no change in the basic stance of Pakistan against Afghanistan and that the Pakistan military continues to treat the Afghan Taliban as strategic assets. In our case, it is good to continue talking but we should be prepared for similar response. There is no reason to go overboard either especially where we have a chief minister in J&K who thanks Pakistan for his throne while his family  candidate electioneering even during 2001 supported radical Hijbul cadres as bodyguards. But then the Centre would have taken all this into account with Pakistan’s game plan of removing AFSPA from large areas of J&K if not altogether. This would be enough to raise insurgency levels without the need for the Pakistani army to mount another Kargil, as Musharraf had been threatening. It is amusing to note some scholars writing that space needs to be given to Hurriyat hardliners but pray what has been happening till now? Pakistan may consider their protégés as representative of J&K but that is a far cry from the ground reality. Frankly, they are nonentities that would automatically vanish if denied media publicity.

         The need of the hour is remain pragmatic without going overboard. There is no requirement to go to the other extreme to appease an insolent Pakistan.  Hopefully return of 54 Indian Prisoners of War will figure prominently in the talks, even as Sartaj Aziz in his above mentioned article only talks of captive fishermen. We are not fooling anyone by putting it in the media that the recent attacks in J&K were undertaken by terrorists to boost their low morale. More importantly, the Pakistani military may have already planned the next terrorist strike on India, complicity to which as always will be denied.

Typical day in Bakistan with Bomb blasts

Bakistani Soldiers also Look like LeT and Taliban Terrorists

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